Tap to Read ➤

A List of the Greatest Military Leaders of All Time

Rahul Pandita Mar 20, 2020
Throughout history, the world has seen some great military leaders who became symbols of bravery and courage and helped their respective nations to annex territories and defend its people. In this post, we will take a look at some of the greatest military leaders of all-time.
Military leaders have had the biggest influence in shaping the course of history. A whole class of intellectuals, scholars, artists has thrived because they had the protection of a strong military leadership.
History is witness to the fact that civilizations who had a strong and an able military leadership flourished and those who didn't, found themselves subjugated and annihilated. We have compiled a list of some of the greatest military leaders of all-time.

Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar is believed to be born in July, 100 BC. He was born in a patrician family, who supposedly were the descendants of goddess Venus. At the age of sixteen, Julius lost his father and became the head of the family.
Historians believe that one of the early manifestations of the military prowess of Julius Caesar was his effort to save the life of a citizen in a battle, earning him a Civic Crown - the second highest decoration in the Roman Republic. But, it was his unbridled accomplishments in Gaul which made him as one of the greatest military rulers of that era.
Under his leadership, many parts of Gaul were brought under Roman control. Julius prepared his legions for an assault on Britain and it is reported that Romans had penetrated in Britain as far as Thames. Caesar's leadership was again on display in the battle of Alesia, where despite facing the threat of 250,000 Gauls, he managed to emerge victorious.
He defeated the King Pharnaces II of Pontus in Egypt and Metellus Scipio in Africa. Julius became the supreme leader of Rome by defeating the sons of Pompey in the battle of Munda in 45 BC, but only a year later he was killed by his senators in the Senate of Roman Republic.

Quotable quote : There is nothing impossible to him who will try.

Alexander the Great

Alexander III of Macedon, who later was to become Alexander the Great was born in July 20/21, 356 BC to Philip II - the king of Macedon and Olympias.
Alexander found himself becoming the king of Macedon when his father was assassinated in 336 BC. Alexander proved to be a worthy inheritor when he captured the city of Thebes which served a warning to his adversaries. Over the course of next few years, Alexander established Macedonian rule in Greece.
After he had crushed the opposition at home, he set his eyes on the vast Persian empire, one of the most powerful empires of the era. He marched his troops to Persia and without suffering a single defeat became the emperor of Persia at the age of 25.
Alexander the Great - as he was referred to - expanded his kingdom across India, Egypt, and Danube, totaling an area of two million square miles. Alexander was revered in various countries, and to this day, the world hasn't seen a ferocious warrior like him.
The use of phalanx and terrain enabled him to defeat his enemies even if his army found itself outnumbered in a war. His troops were loyal to him and one of the prime reason for this was that Alexander led from the front and never shied away from risking his life.
He died in June 323 BC, allegedly of a fever in Babylon, leaving behind him a vast empire that encompassed three continents.

Quotable quote : Cowards die many times before their actual death.

Hannibal Barca

Hannibal is believed to be born 247 BC in Carthage. His father, Hamiclar Barca was one of the commanders in the First Punic War in which Romans had routed the Carthaginians. It is believed that Hannibal had been deeply affected by humiliation suffered to Carthage in the First Punic War.
After the death of his father and brother, Hannibal was made the Commander of Iberia. This started one of the most aggressive military campaigns of that time. Hannibal emerged victorious in Saguntum, which sparked off the Second Punic War.
His efficiency as a master strategist came to forefront in the Second Punic War when he took his soldiers and elephants over the Alps to attack Romans. He crossed the Pyrenees with an army of around 50,000 infantry, 9000 cavalry and 27 elephants and then reached the plains. Hannibal had three victories in Italy and most parts of Italy were under his control.
Although, his army was defeated by the Roman army led by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama, he had made a name for himself in history as one of the greatest military leaders of all-time. Hannibal committed suicide in 183 or 182 BC as he didn't want to fall into his enemy's hands.

Quotable quote : I will either find a way, or make one.

Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon Bonaparte was a great military and political leader whose actions played a major role in shaping the European politics. Born on 15th August, 1769, Napoleon Bonaparte rose to prominence under the First French Republic and in the year 1799 established himself as the Emperor of France, courtesy a coup d' etat.
It was in the first decade of the 19th century that the world got to see the leadership abilities of Napoleon as he started his offensive against every major European power. He helped France to expand its sphere of influence and formed extensive alliances to gain greater control over Europe. In 1815, Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo.
He spent his remaining years in exile under the supervision of Britain on the island of Saint Helena. He died in 1821, allegedly due to stomach cancer, but some historians are of the view that he was poisoned with arsenic.

Quotable quote : Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.

Adolf Hitler

Hitler is notorious all over the world for his crimes against humanity, but historians also remember him as an able general who won many wars for Germany. After the World War I was over, Germany was under huge debt and was reduced to the status of an economically weak nation.
Hitler decided that if Germany had to gain its rightful place in history, it will have to conquer many nations and use their natural resources for its development. Hitler led his troops gallantly and conquered large territories in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Hitler believed that Germans were racially superior and it was this belief that made him plunge Germany into World War II, resulting into her defeat. Hitler committed suicide and Germany was divided into East Germany and West Germany.
Hitler earned himself the reputation of being a great military general of all-time, but this distinction was marred by the atrocities he committed against the Jews.

Quotable quote : Germany will either be a world power or will not be at all.

Genghis Khan

Genghis Khan was the founder and the emperor of the Mongol empire, one of the largest empires in history. He united many nomadic tribes of northeast Asia and subsequently started the Mongol invasions. He conquered most parts of Central Asia, and his war strategies were unique.
Although he led his army to many victories, many people view him as a barbarous and a genocidal warlord who killed millions of innocent people in Middle East and Iran.

Quotable quote : If my body dies, let my body die, but do not let my country die.

Other Notable Military Leaders

  1. Georgy Zhukov
  2. Simon Bolivar
  3. Fidel Castro
  4. Charlemagne
  5. Hermando Cortes
  6. Samuel Houston
  7. Robert E. Lee
  8. Winfield Scott
  9. Tamerlane
  10. William the Conqueror
  11. Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus
These leaders were innovators in warfare and used their military prowess to protect their country and dominate their neighbors. They were characteristically brave and had tremendous belief in themselves.
As mentioned in the introduction, many of these leaders have committed grave acts against humanity. Their actions brought death to many and caused widespread destruction, but again, this write-up is focused on the military strengths of these men, something even their adversaries have acclaimed.